Tuesday, May 21, 2013

After Reading Early Women Poets From Asia


Female poets from the early to late middle ages in Asia, especially Japan and China, were fluent in their expressions of love, loss and seasons. Nature was used as their hand mirror which reflected  what they felt and experienced as women in royal and common circumstances. Their language was often sparse and the details simple, but a profound elegance settled beneath the text leaving the reader to listen and imagine there was more. These poems were inspired by prolific poets such as Lady Ise,
Lady Otomo, Li Qingzhao and others.

Verses Of The Soldier's Woman

I have washed your wounds
with my tears, given love
to soothe your anguish. Ghosts may linger
but you will not be alone
entering the gates of sleep.

* * * * *

Outside, frost whitens the grass.
The first blossoms will die and the wind’s lips
will not  taste of their sweetness. But you lie
in the perfumed field of my hair. Like night’s shadow
it is soft and comforting. 

* * * *
Dawn’s candle is dim
glowing through our shutters. I wake first
and look out the window. A house wren
clings to the morning glory vine
and tilts her head east. She will not sing
knowing you must wake in silence, slowly returning
from dreams of dust and ruin.

Li Quan Being Thankful For Her Husband

The swan goose
is crying in the marsh.
The sun too hot, the water shallow.

 I hear her sad complaint
and hold your hand tighter,
my arm draped across your chest. Beneath
your heart wades
in this sudden closeness --  bold and patient,

like a  hyacinth
soothing its leaves
in the rippling stream  at dawn.

On The Eve Of Her Marriage The Princess Reflects.
I groom my hair while dew forms on the mulberry leaves. Many strands
slide through the comb long and free. The moon’s  palm
(cool as yours) will stroke them as I sleep.
But words that slid  through my window screen
were secret and. restrained. Camouflaged
by horse hooves on the road. Travelers  who helped
but never knew – they were shielding us, the voice of lovers.

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